Monthly Archives: April 2017

Tuscany day 3: Montelliccio dog beach, and more pesce fritto

Maddie at Mortelliccio

Our two “kids” are seasoned travelers in that they do fine on road trips, carry valid canine passports, and behave like saints at restaurants and in public places. This is the first time taking them to a dog beach/spiaggia per cani, and as it goes with all firsts, it’ll either be a good or a bad thing.

It was a hit.

Mr. B's first encounter sand

As I suspected, this landwiener stayed clear of the water and had zero interest in getting his feet wet. He was so engrossed with digging that all other dogs were ignored and not worth barking at.

Mr. B at Mortelliccio

I’ve never seen them so doggone ecstatic, so blown away by this fine, soft, dry material that falls back on itself. While Mr. B dug a hole to China, Maddie investigated the waves and had a sip. Bleah!

Maddie's first encounter ocean

The Mortelliccio location (north of Follonica) was surprisingly clean, long, and not crowded as I had imagined. Visiting before summer is most likely the reason, but I have no doubt the place sees a lot of quadrupeds and their humans during peak tourist season. From the pay-park (1€/hour) it’s a short walk to the beach.

da Mauro e Andreia

We spent an hour soaking up the sun before heading back for lunch, but not before picking up more of that delicious fried seafood from da Mauro and Andreia’s in Castiglione della Pescaia.

Lunch after the beach

Advertisements

Tuscany day 2: glamping under the Tuscan sun

La Dolce Vita in Vetulonia
La Dolce Vita, our hideaway in Vetulonia

You won’t have television or internet (for that you’ll need to go to the main building), but at Agriturismo Il Baciarino, why bother being a slave to the grid when you can indulge in a little dolce far niente? Excuse me while I pour a glass of wine in a toast to Julia Roberts.

La Dolce Vita

Where: ancient Etruscan village of Vetulonia. Tucked away on a quiet hillside surrounded by acacia trees, wildflowers, and pretty weeds, La Dolce Vita Vita lives up to its name and offers the casual air of camping life but takes the rough out of “roughing it” with indoor plumbing and hot running water within its rustic stone walls. Renovated from an old farm shed, it is one of 5 self-catering cottages on Il Baciarino’s property.

Glamping at La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita outdoors

A sheltered outdoor kitchen with camp stove, dorm fridge, open dining area, hammock, sun loungers, and swedish hot tub was all it took to fall in love with this magical place. But the true hook, line, and sinker? The undeniably breathtaking view.

Buongiorno bella!

Make that friendly resident donkeys and a jaw-dropping view. We fed apples to the mother-daughter duo from day 1 and they had us trained like good little tourists. The next morning while I was putting the Moka on the fire, they ambled up – clop, clop, clop – and gave me a look that said, “Well where are the apples?”

Pesce fritto

Food: eventually we had to take five from basking under the hot Tuscan sun. We replenished our energy for doing more of doing nothing with a quick trip to the fish stand in Castiglione della Pescaia for cold beer and fried seafood, then purchased fixings from the Saturday morning market for lunch al fresco back home. Roasted pork sandwiches, fava beans, pecorino, chicken liver crostini, and Chianti. Cheap and tasty!

Pranzo al fresco

The dogs loved their new digs. Such a huge difference from being enclosed in a hotel room, and with so much to sniff and explore.

Dog's life at La Dolce Vita

They napped in different spots throughout the day but I swear that Mister B preferred the hammock to all else. What a dog’s life, eh?

Dolce far niente in a hammock

I know we’ll be back: Il Baciarino

Tuscany day 1: spring holiday in Maremma

Looking out from Vetulonia

La Maremma – rolling hills, incredible views, clean beaches, and of course, excellent food and wine. This area of southwestern Tuscany was, at one time, a marshland and haven for mosquitos. These days it’s a destination for beachgoers and nature lovers, a place to escape the big cities like Firenze and Siena in a couple hours’ drive. Our destination lay in Vetulonia, a speck of a hilltop village (pop. under 300) located halfway between Follonica and Grosseto. From Vetulonia, the Tyrrhenian Sea can be seen out on the horizon.

Michelin calculated a little over 5 hours and just under 300 miles to get there – not an overly long drive – but we were up and awake by 5 in the morning and on the road an hour later. I’m not an early riser, but this gave us plenty of time for rest stops and a detour for a proper lunch at Osteria l’Ciocio, a Slow Food restaurant in Suvereto. We had no reservations but as you can see, there was a lot of available seating.

Osteria l'Ciocio

Artichokes and fava beans feature prolifically on spring menus at this time of year. When I’m able to find them up north, they look like they’ve traveled a long way. But here in central Italy, they look and taste as if they had been just harvested.

Zuppa ai 10 pesci

MotH ordered zuppa ai 10 pesci – a soup made with 10 types of raw seafood and tiny diced vegetables. A hot fish broth was poured tableside over the ingredients, and the remaining broth set aside in a small stylish pot for us to add more if needed. I could only identify tiny shrimp, mussels, and some of the white fish, but one spoonful was all it took to realize the number of components that went into it.

Spaghetti carciofi, cacio e pepe

I ordered the spaghetti carciofi, cacio e pepe. Thinly slivered artichokes, cheese, and ground pepper in strands of pasta boiled perfectly al dente. We skipped the second main course to keep the meal light, but continued with a platter of pecorino and salumi, artichoke and fava bean salad, and a side dish of steamed fennel and spinach (not shown).

Pecorino e salumi tipici

Artichokes and fava bean salad

Listed among the most beautiful villages in Italy, Suvereto is also part of the Città del Vino (wine city) association. We came across some curiously-named wine bars like Enoteca dei Difficili (the difficult ones) and delle Carceri (the prisons), and photo-friendly cats roaming the medieval streets.

Curious-sounding wine bars in Suvereto...
Wine bars in Suvereto.

Suvereto local scene
Not many people on this Friday afternoon visit, but the cats were everywhere.

And if the wine bars weren’t enough to prove that Suvereto is a place for imbibing, I picked up this leaflet for a wine barrel race at the end of April. Sounds like way too much fun. We left Suvereto after a quick tour of the central square and arrived in Vetulonia by 4 pm.

Up next: what Julia Roberts discovered in Eat, Pray, Love – dolce far niente and La Dolce Vita. Seriously, you will not believe your eyes.